Integration body slams ‘absurd’ statements

The Integration Centre has labelled comments by Supermac’s boss Pat McDonagh concerning foreign nationals claiming social welfare as absurd and inflammatory.

Speaking on Newstalk’s breakfast show yesterday, Mr McDonagh made a number of statements about Ireland being “a magnet” for foreigners due to the “very generous” social welfare system.

“I do think we are a magnet for a lot of Eastern European peoples or nations, or whatever, because of out very generous social welfare system.

“And when you see that 73,000, or whatever, left the country, I think it was in 2010, and 20,000 came in, I think in excess of 60% of those went on the social welfare system.

“We have to look at that and we have to look at other ways we can reduce that spend.”

When questioned on the accuracy of his figures, Mr McDonagh said he did not have a problem with people coming to work in Ireland, but that a lot of people were “coming in to get social welfare because it is so generous”.

“Whether its 10%, 15% or 16% or whatever it is, there are a lot of people coming in to get social welfare because it is so generous,” he said.

However, Killian Forde, chief executive of the Integration Centre, said that Mr McDonagh’s claims were not only wrong but also inflammatory.

“Mr McDonagh must understand that there are consequences to people coming out with stark falsities like this.

“The recent and worrying rise of extreme-right parties in Europe is a consequence of the mainstreaming of extremist dialogue.

“Many people would have listened to Mr McDonagh, thought he was speaking the truth, and will repeat that ‘truth’.”

Mr Forde pointed out that, in the past three years, there had been no increase in the number of migrants claiming social welfare.

He said that since 2009 the amount of migrants on the Live Register has remained largely static at 18%.

The largest proportion of these are British nationals.

The Integration Centre chief executive also stressed that for almost all social welfare payments, such as jobseekers’ allowance and homeless support, claimants needed to demonstrate an habitual residency condition, their absence from the State, and their employment.

“People cannot get off a plane, go into the dole office and get a payment. It’s impossible.

“As a businessman Pat McDonagh should know that without immigrants in this country, fuelling the export market, Ireland would be in an even worse state than it is.

“Their skills, expertise and language are needed in the country, and without migrants, including Eastern Europeans in the Irish labour force, no multi-national would be here.”

A telephone call placed to Supermac’s headquarters for a response from Mr McDonagh was not returned.

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